CASA of the Sabine Neches Region focuses on supporting awareness during National Child Abuse Prevention Month amongst fears COVID-19’s impact
Published 1:07 pm Saturday, March 21, 2020
To The Leader
ORANGE, Texas – April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and CASA of the Sabine Neches Region is raising awareness of the need for more dedicated members of the community to step up and become CASA volunteers and help break the cycle of abuse and neglect, through supporting children and families.
CASA volunteers, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, are everyday people who are recruited and specially trained to advocate for children in foster care and provide a consistent, reliable adult presence for them during a difficult time in their life.
“Our volunteers’ first priority is to keep families together whenever safe and possible,” said Codie Vasquez, Executive Director of CASA of the Sabine Neches Region. “Foster care is only a temporary solution to the problems at hand. We need to create long term support networks that work to care for families, make reunification a possibility, and help break the cycle for the next generation.”
Locally, CASA of the Sabine Neches Region served 183 children in the foster care system in Orange, Hardin, Jasper, Newton, Sabine and Tyler Counties in 2019, which means there are still 589 children who need someone to advocate for them. This April, consider stepping up to make a difference by becoming a CASA volunteer.
“There is still a tremendous need for CASA volunteers, and the need is even more critical now, more than ever.” said Vasquez. “Reports of family violence in China, where the novel coronavirus originated, have reportedly tripled since the pandemic began. And it is expected our area will experience the same phenomenon in the coming months. During periods of natural disasters, financial stress or global panics such as viral pandemics, studies show that abusers become more violent in an attempt to feel a sense of control. We are doing everything we can to encourage our community to take notice and report suspected abuse, but we need to prepare for a significant increase in case numbers in the wake of this crisis. I am making the plea to my community to be a voice for the most vulnerable among us. By becoming a CASA volunteer, you can take your efforts beyond just awareness, and do your part to help support children and families right here in our community.”
CASA volunteers are assigned to one child or sibling group to advocate for their best interest in court, in school and in other settings. They get to know the child and everyone involved in their life, such as parents and other family members, foster parents, therapists, caseworkers, and teachers, in order to develop a realistic picture of the child’s unique situation. They engage those important to the child and family in order to build a network of support around them so that the family has access to support and resources after CASA and CPS involvement has ended. They make recommendations to the judge overseeing the child’s case, with the goal of ensuring that the child is safe and the family has the resources, support and healthy relationships needed to heal.
When reunification is not a possibility for the children they serve, CASA volunteers work to find others that can provide a positive, healthy and loving environment. These can include relatives, friends or other adults that are important in the child’s life—keeping a child connected to their home community.
“We at CASA of the Sabine Neches Region always hope for the day when CASA, foster care and a national month dedicated to child abuse prevention are no longer needed because all children are growing up safe, secure and supported with their families,” said Vasquez. “Until then, we will continue to seek more members of the community to join our growing movement so that we can provide a CASA volunteer for every child who needs one.”
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. If you see abuse, report it to 1 (800) 252-5400 or go to www.txabusehotline.org. If a child’s life is in danger, call 911. For more information on CASA, visit www.casasnr.org or call (409) 886-2272. If you are ready to take a stand for child, fill out the volunteer application form on our website. Training will be provided through an interactive virtual classroom. Contact us to register for classes.
CASA of the Sabine Neches Region is dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of the CASA program, those we serve and the public as a whole. We have been carefully following the news, recommendations and expertise of health officials as the situation with COVID-19 has continued to evolve. We recognize that this is a serious concern and are making the well-being of the program and the children we serve our highest priority.
Therefore, we have closed the office to any outside personnel and are officially postponing, until future notice, the CASA Classic Golf Tournament and all onsite classroom training.
We will continue to hold Memorial Vigils for the 235 Texas children that lost their lives to abuse in 2019 in each county we serve. Instead of a group gatherings, we will live stream on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/casasnr at 6 p.m. on the following evenings for the respective counties:
Orange County – April 2 (2 deaths in 2019)
Jasper County – April 6
Sabine County – April 7
Hardin County – April 8 (1 death in 2019)
Newton County – April 16
Tyler County – April 17